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Full text of "NLBW35_6"

Newsletter for 
Birdwatchers 



Vol. 35 No. 6 



Nov / Dec 1 995 




NEWS FROM ABROAD 




Should mow geese (left) md mandarin duckn (rtfit), endarujered in tbeir native lands, beonthe death fiat? 



Ducking the issue of racial purity 



Bitter disagreements are 
breaking out among 
conservation groups in Britain over 
plans to keep alien bird species 
from breeding by shooting them as 
they sit on their nests or graze in 
parks. 

Already on the Government's 
death list are the ruddy duck and 
Canada goose, but purists want 
others added, including the snow 
goose, bar-headed goose, mandarin 
ducks and parakeets. 

Some delegates at the British 
Ornithological Union's meeting in 
March called for the shooting of all 
species imported into Britain. The 
proposals were defeated but the 
debate continues. One oponent. Dr. 
Richard Ryder, said last week : "If 
you shot everything that arrived in 
Britain In the last 5,000 years, ihere'd 
be nothing left." 

The current row began because 
of the intended late of the ruddy 
duck, whose sexual habits are 
endangering the purity of the 
white -headed duck. It does not occur 
in Britain, but resident ruddies go to 
Spain for the spring and impregnate 
the locals, creating a hybrid and 
threatening the rarer species. 

As part of a Europe- wide effort, 
Britain has undertaken to try to 
slaughter 3,500 ruddy ducks believed 



to be resident. The latest 
government-backed plan Is to wait 
until spring and shoot them as they 
nest on their eggs. 

But Paul Evans, chairman of Ihe 
British Association of Nature 
Conservationists, said : "This 
slaughter is obscene in the name of 

racal purity. Using public money to 
massacre ducks on their nests 
seems to be a lowdown dirty trick." 

He added that ruddy ducks were 
well established and it was unlikely 
they could be wiped out The public's 
trust in conservationists would be 

diminished by what many would 
regard as a meaningless slaughter. 

Canada geese, another alien, 
introduced to Britain by Charles II. 
were encouraged to breed in the 
1950s so they could be shot by 
sportsmen. However, the geese, not 
being frightened by man, refused to 
take off. The spoilsmen felt unable to 
shoot a sitting target, so the geese 
survived to breed in huge numbers 
and moved into the nation's parks. 

Unfortunately they eat and 
excrete more than any other bird, 
causing some nuisance problems. 
They also damage crops, so ways of 

getting rid of them are being devised. 

Dr. Ba* Hughes, from the 
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in 

Gloucestershire, heads the ruddy 



ex termination programme. He says 
19,000 white-headed ducks survie, 
while there are 500,000 ruddy ducks 
in their native North America. He has 
asked landowners in the West 
Midlands, which has lakes where 
ruddy ducks breed, if they will 
co-operate in the shooting next 
spring. He said : "It is being done to 
save another species. Where an 
alien does not cause conflict with 
another species, it is a different 
problem." 

The Royal Society for the 
Protection of Birds (RSPB) agrees 
with the plan but believes other 
exotics deserve protection. For 
example the mandarin duck, an 
endangered species in its native 
China and Japan, has around 4,000 
birds in Britain breeding in the wild - 
one-third of their world population 
live here. Chris Harbard, from the 
RSPB, said : "Purists would shoot it 
hut it may be the last refuge for this 
duck if it disappears in the Far East. 
This is a complex matter. Our policy 
is to take each case on its merits." 

Other geese breeding in Bntain 

are the North American snow goose, 
with 182 in the wild, 85 bar-headed 
geese from the Himalayas, and 900 
barnacle geese, from the Arctic 

fringes. 



Coortey 



Guardian Weekly, 
My 16, 1995, 



Birdwatchers 



101 



Vol. 35 



No. 6 



Nov /Dec 1995 



Announcements 



CONTENTS 



Editor lal 

D Second Biannual Conference of the OSI 

□ Whitenecked Stork 

D Whitebellied Sea Eagle 

O White winged Tit 

□ Madhavaram Jheel, Madras 
D Finally,..:. 

Articles 

D Trapping Hlii Birds, by Rajal Bhargava 

D Bird watch i ng i n So u th An da m an s , by V. Santharam 

D Birds of Nau ni C amp us of Un i versity of Hort icu 1 1 ure 

and Forestry. Solan, HP., by Dr. M.L Ma rang and 

Arun Pratap Singh 




Short Notes 
D 



Developmental Plans, by 



Madhavaram Jheel 
Preston Ahimaz 

D Greyheaded Flycatchers and Large Crowned Leaf 
Warblers, by P rave en J 

D Use of old Barbet Hole, Successive Broods and 
Mimicry by Magpie Robin, by Mosaddique Umar 

D Sooty Tern in Thattakkadu In Western Ghats, by Dr. 
R. Sugathan, K.C. Jacob, and Aby P. Varghese 

D Status of th e Woolly -necked Stork in Assam , by D r. 
Amwaruddin Choudhury 

Correspondence 

G Whitewinged Tit and Great Tit. by L Shyamal 
D Rare Occurrence of White -n aped Tit in Dharwad, 

by Or. J.C. Uttangi 
D Rufous vented P rin i a in Pabitora WHdl ife Sanctuary, 

Assam, by Maan Barua 

Q Great Black Woodpecker in Kodagu Dist, by 
Lt. Gen. B.C. Nanda (Retd.) 

D Comments on some Contributions to Newsletter, 
by Lavkumar Khacher 

D Fifteen years and still going strong, by M.S. 
Kulkami 

White Storks in Belgaum City, by N.R. Sent 



D 
D 



Need for a new Guide Book, by Werner W.K. 
Peters 



Review 



Environment and Ornithology in India, by Prakash 
Gole 



□ 



Wilderness India Research Expedition, by 
Dr. Kumar Ghorpade 

Salim Ali International Award for Nature 
Conservation 



Editorial 



The Second Biannual Conference of the OSI was held 
at the I. A. R.I. Pusa. New Delhi, between 14th- 16th 
November. As always, it is pleasant and useful meeting old 
friends and making new acquaintances. But one 
sympathises with the organisers, because so many things 
go wrong for no fault of theirs. People (even Convenors of 
Sessions) do not turn up in time; speakers do not respond 
to the Chairman's warning bed and go on and on; members 
from the audience do not ask relevant questions but make 
long statements which are not quite pertinent to the topic; 
and of course mere is always the odd character whose 
unwanted interruptions are rather annoying. However, Asha 
Chandola Saklani and her team from Garhwal did very well. 
and we must express our gratitude to them for being so 
actively concerned with the welfare of the delegates. 

VVIPs on the stage are always welcome because they 
help to promote what we lesser mortals are struggling to 
achieve. So we were happy to have Or. B.P. Singh (Director, 
IARI, who generously allowed OSI the use of their excellent 
facilities). Or. Zohoor Qasim of the Planning Commission. 
Dr. T.N. Khoshoo, and Prof, R.N. Saxena on the dais. 

While sophisticated research is necessary to help us 
understand the mysterious ways of nature, our priority has 
to be the saving of the natural world from further harm. It is 
very encouraging to find that Associations like for example, 
the Mandar Nature Club (Anand Chikitsalaya Road. 
Bhagaipur 812 002, Bihar), have succeeded in establishing 
the Udhuwa Lake Bird Sanctuary in Bihar. They have been 
successful because of the intelligent propaganda they 
mounted in favour of conservation, and more importantly, 
because they found alternative sources of livelihood for the 
fishermen whose activities were checked when the bird 
sanctuary was established. One of their members, Arvind 
Misfira, has produced a Wader's Taxonomic Identification 
Booklet which might prove to be a useful effort. Our 
"experts" may probably like to correspond with him and 
make their suggestions. 

The programme, Environment and Birds, was broad 
enough to accommodate anything to do with avians, but for 
those who were not present I will list the headings of the 
various Symposia and Round Tables : 

* Birds in Biotechnology and: Biodiversity Management 

* Behaviour 

" Avian Conservation 

* Bird Acoustics 

* Environmental Physiology 
' Gease and Cranes 

' Wetland Birds 
Bird Migration 
' Biological Clock In Birds 



102 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



* Shrikes in N.E- India 

* Avian Biodiversity 

' Directory of Indian Ornithologists 

' Employment opportunities lor ornithologists and 
conservationists 

* Ecology 

* The Avian Pineal : Transducer of Environmental Information? 

* Conservation of Pheasants 
" Agricultural Ornithology 

" Indian Bird Atlas Project 

The Round Table In which t was involved as Convenor 
was Employment Opportunities tor Ornithologists and 
Conservationists, and I will write about it in a subsequent 
issue. 

Serious birdwatchers may be interested in getting a 
copy of the abstracts, and on request perhaps our 
Secretary General will oblige. 

Prlnlas 

I admire people who take the trouble to pin down a 
species, on the basis of their appearance, distribution, 
habfts and habitat. I refer to the article in this issue on the 
rufousvented prinia {Prints bumssii). There are a dozen 
prfnias among the confusing group of 95 or so warblers in 
India. Most of them are brown and grey, and several have 
the white eye stripe {supercilium) of the same design. The 
ashy wren warbler is a great favourite because it is so 
friendly and its loud call from the top of a shrub makes 
identification easy. The orphan warbler {Sylvia hotisnsis} 
and the white-throat [Sylvia communis) are not too difficult 
to recognise. We caught a great many in mist nets In Kutch. 
during a BIMHS bird migration survey. In the case of 
warblers, their calls are a great aid to their identity. Blyth's 
reed warbler, for example, and the Indian great reed warbler 
(Acrvcsphalus stBntorius) give themselves away when they 
"open" their beaks. To add to our problems many prinias 
have very different breeding and non-breeding plumage. 

Whitenecked Stork 

The report by Dr. Anwaruddin Choudhury about the 
presence of a large flock of white-necked storks In Assam 
is very cheering for these birds are never known to occur in 
such large flocks. Many of us have seen the single pair In 
Periyar, In Birds of Periyar. Andrew Robertson and M.C.A. 
Jackson say l "First recorded in 1961 (MCAJ) since when a 
resident pair have nested high up in the large silk cotton tree 
at the Thekkady boat landing virtually every year". But the 



authors do refer to other areas where 9 to 12 birds have 
been seen. I am surprised that there is no mention of this 
species in A Book of Kerala Birds by K.K. Neelakantan and 
others. 

Whitebellied Sea Eagles 

Mr. Hariprasad has apparently seen a group of over a 
hundred whitebellied sea eagles on an Island (2 hours away 
by motor boat, in the Arabian Sea off |he coast of Karwar), 
This is an amazing finding because it has been assumed 
that these birds are solitary n esters; A photograph in 
confirmation is expected. 

Whftewinged Tit 

Is the white winged tit (Pa/us nuchatis) extending its 
range? The two articles by L. Shyamal and Dr. Uttangi J.C, 
seem to suggest that this may be happening. In his Birds of 
Kutch, Salim Ali writes ; The (nesting) season is July and 
August ... Two found by me at Chaduva were both about 4' 
up in a Satvadora and Babool trunk respectively. From the 
first nest {August 20) which was under construction and 
empty was obtained a large tangle of kutcha sewing thread 
with a needle attached!*. 

The Madhavaram Jheel, Madras 

During the Asian Waterfowl Census, South Asia, V 
Gurusami and others undertook a count of the birds on this 
Jheel on £2-1-95. They were able to count 132 pheasant 
tailed jacanas, which is possibly the highest congregation of 
this species on record. The report by WWF (TN Branch) 
reproduced this issue Indicated the dangers ahead for this 
unique habitat, and we hope that the T.N. Veterinary and 
Animal Sciences University will refrain from any action 
which will affect bird life adversely. The response of the T N 
VASU to the recommendations made by WWF suggests that 
they do understand that conservation and development are 
two sides of the same coin. In their letter to WWF they say 
that the various suggestions will not be disregarded. The 
deepening of the bed of the lake will take place in a manner 
which it would not cause any adverse effect on the breeding 
of pheasant tailed jacanas". It is difficult to believe though, 
that bulldozers trundling into fragile areas will do no harm. 

Finally . . . 

Season's Greetings, and hope you will continue to send 
your contributions to the Newsletter. 




Trapping Hill Birds — A Vanishing Art 



Since I was in class 111, I was fascinated by birds and 
as a hobby kept birds like budgerigars. I got into this 
pastime since at the back of my house there was a 
community of bird exporters, dealers and trappers for 
whom birds meant a livelihood. Being near to them and 



RAJAT BHARGAVA. Centre for Wildlife & Ornithology, Mgarh Muslim University 

Allgarh 202 002, UP 

watching them for more than a decade, I iearnt many 
Interesting facts about bird trapping and bird keeping. 



Meerut in Uttar Pradesh being a major bird export centre 
before the ban on bird trade in 1991, I had a chance to see 
endless numbers of birds for years and got most attracted to 
the group of softbills which were the most conspicuous birds 
in appearance with beautiful colourations. Softbill is a term 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



103 



used by avicultu lists and refer to those species which are 
insectivorous, frugivorous or nectar feeders in their dietary 
habits. As they are not granivorous they do not have the 
hard, nut cracking and seed eating bill and therefore 
referred as softbills. These are mostly hill birds which were 
in great demand among specialised avicularists throughout 
the world. Some Indian softbill species are chloropsis, 
shama, pekin robin (red-billed leothrix), redwhiskered 
bulbul, yuhinas, thrushes, redstart, tits, magpies, and jays. 
Being excellent songsters they were preferred cage birds 
and regularly exported. 

After my repeated request to trappers, I managed a trip 
to Chalti, near Tanakpur in district Pithoragarh with a veteran 
hill bird trapper to see the various methods of catching these 
birds. The most important tool to catch softbills in the hills is 
the jungle owlet (Glaucidium radiatum). The first day was 
spent in searching and catching the owlet. It is first baited 
with a mice or a small bird which is placed between two 
slender twigs coated with lhasa, Lhasa is a sticky substance 
prepared from latex of Reus trees. As soon as the owl tries 
to catch the bait, lhasa-coated sticks fall over it and glue its 
feathers. The trapper quickly takes it out and methodically 
removes the glue from its feathers. Its eyelids are stitched 
so that the owlet cannot see or attack the decoy bird. It is fed 
at intervals so that it remains active and it is made 
accustomed to sit on a perch. This species is more preferred 
than the barred owlet (Glaucidium cuculoides) and spotted 
owlet (Athene brama). I had asked the reasons for such a 
preference which though not scientifically verified, trappers 
attribute it to the bird being more nocturnal than other 
species and also to it being more conspicuous because of 
its rufous primaries. 

The theory behind using an owl decoy for catching birds 
in the hills is that birds perch normally on tall vegetation and 
cannot easily be reached by conventional bamboo rods 
(which are 10-15 metres long) or cannot be caught by nets. 
Secondly hill birds are normally shy, arboreal and found in 
dense thickets. As most birds in the softbill category are not 
graminivorous and therefore are loath to come down to the 
ground in large flocks, nets are not used in the hills. Also as 
mountainous terrain is difficult for searching and trapping of 
birds, it further eliminates the use of nets such as the funnel 
nets which require driving the birds into the nets. The use of 
the owl on a perch is important as in the mountains, the birds 
to be caught are slightly shyer of human beings than in the 
plains and therefore more difficult to approach. Given the 
inaccessibility of the birds of the high perches, trappers have 
to rely on decoy to bring the birds to a trappable level. 

The other important tool for the hill trapper is the tatiya 
or a shield of leaves that is used as a camouflage for the 
trapper. The leaves are strung around an oval-shaped frame 
made out of bending mulberry stems or cane. The trapper 
ties this structure through his neck looking out from the two 
holes left for the eyes. When doing the trapping the trappers 
do not move the structure even slightly as this might cause 
alarm among the birds to be trapped. 

The use of decoys in catching birds is a very specialised 
art. when a trapper spots or hears a mixed hunting flock of 
preferred species such as white-eyes, tits, sunbirds, etc, he 



displays the decoy owl and from behind his shield of leaves 
mimics the distress calls of the species that he wishes to 
trap. When wile birds attracted by these calls come nearer 
to investigate, they see the owl and presume that it is the 
cause for the alarm and therefore set about to mob it. This 
is when the trapper uses his lhasa stick and catches the 
birds. 

Other preferred decoy species are the grey tit (Parus 
•major) and yellow-cheeked tit (Parus xanthogenys). These 
are very vocal when caught and are tied near the decoy owl 
causing them to cry out loud and long, attracting bulbuls, 
thrushes, sunbirds, etc. Certain birds if caught in this 
manner can aid attracting certain other species. For 
example the white-crested laughing thrush (Garrulax 
leucolophus) is useful in attracting white throated laughing 
thrush (Garrulax albogularis), Himalayan tree pie 
(Dendrocita formosae) and green magpie (Cissa 
chinensis). The latter in turn is good for catching blue 
magpie (Cissa erythrorhyncha). Similarly the common myna 
(Acridotheres tristis) is used for attracting black throated jay 
(Garrulax tanceolatus). While trapping, the birds are kept in 
a cloth tied to the waist of the trapper and finally transferred 
to bamboo cages. 

For trapping sibias and chloropsis, the trapper takes 
recourse to a specific tree called Churaa or churn which has 
a nectar yielding inflorescence or the wild plantain species. 
Even though chloropsis are territorial birds under normal 
circumstances, these birds congregate on these tree 
species in medium-sized flocks which can then be caught 
with medium sized poles. 

Streaked spiderhunters (Arachnothera magna) are also 
caught on wild banana trees in the same way. The use of 
specific plant species to catch specific birds shows a great 
understanding of habits of the birds by the trappers. They 
are also well aware about the home range and territories of 
certain species. For species such as white-capped redstart 
(Chaimarromis leucocephalus), plumberous redstart 
(Rhyacomis fuliginosus), blue whistling thrush (Mylophonus 
caeruleus) and shama (Copsychus malabaricus), a-different 
technique is adopted. Two pliable sticks are fashioned into 
an arc and then bound together at right angles forming a sort 
of dome. The sticks are coated with lhasa and a live bait 
(normally an insect) is tied at the centre of the dome. This 
trap is placed on rocks, between streams or other habitats. 
When the bird tries to take the bait, if gets stuck to the arms 
of the structure. 

A method for catching gregarious species such as the 
blue magpie, whitecrested laughing thrush is to form a large 
circle of lhasa coated twigs of about one and half feet on the 
ground. Decoy birds such as a whitecrested laughing thrush 
and an owlet are tied in the middle of the circle and then 
teased to attract other passing birds. When thrushes or 
magpies come to mob the owl they get stuck to the rods. 
Birds can also be caught using territorial decoy birds to 
attract other territorial species or by using smaller birds as 
bait. For the latter normally small warblers are used. After 



104 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



plucking feathers, they are strung up so that they resemble 
a tasty bait for species such as the blue and green magpie. 

As most of these birds are caught by lhasa method, the 
feathers are cleaned using kerosene oil and finally the oil is 
removed with cowdung ash which soaks the oil. This needs 
very careful handling and as most softbills are fragile, the 
cleaning is a skillful task. 

Trappers have various methods for feeding the birds 
they catch. Insectivorous birds are fed on a diet of termites 
for the first few days. Termites are slowly replaced with 
minced meat nicely mixed with gram flour. The composition 
of this mixture tends towards minced meat in the first few 
days and is slowly changed by adding more gram flour so 
that the birds are accustomed to a prepared easily available 
vegetarian diet. Frugivorous birds are somewhat more hardy 
and along with nectarivorous species like chloropsis and 
spiderhunters form a group that is not primarily dependent 
on insect food. However, these birds do take the occasional 
insect in varying degrees depending on the species, unlike 
predominantly insectivorous birds which have almost no fruit 
or nectar in their diet. 

Among softbills, one of the most wanted birds is the 
hunting cissas or the green magpie (Cissa formosae). This 
species was seen to change colour in captivity from a green 
colour to a blue. This is variously attributed to melanism and 
to direct exposure to sunlight by the traders although no 
scientific verification has been done for this phenomenon. 
They are either fed minced meat or small birds such as 
warblers. Another group of birds in the trade are the sunbirds 
of which the yellow-backed (Aethopyga nipalensis) and the 
purple sunbird {Nectarinia asiatica) are the most preferred. 
They are fed with a mixture of honey and sugar. Sometimes 
raw sugar is given to sunbirds and spiderhunters which the 
birds eat thinking it to be spider's egg. 

Among bulbuls the white-cheeked {Pycnonotus 
leucogenys leucogenys) brown-eared (Hypsispetes 
flavalus) present in this area are caught by the owl trick. 
Bulbuls are favoured birds among softbills, because of their 
easy diet and low prices. They are considered to be the 
hardiest among softbills. Species like rufousbellted niltava 



(Muscicapa sundara) and the white-capped redstart 
(Chaimorrornis leucocephalus) are also caught for their 
colour and are kept only by specialist aviculturists, because 
of their specific diet. The grey tit (Parus major), the 
green backed tit (Parus monticolus), the yellowcheeked tit 
(Parus xanthogenys) and the redheaded tit (lAegithalos 
cocinnus) are caught for their agile behaviour. Though they 
have a difficult diet in captivity they were exported in large 
numbers before the ban on the trade. They were quite 
commonly seen in Chalthi. The other softbill species seen or 
caught include chestnutbellied nuthatch (Sitta castanea), 
blackcapped sibia (Heterophasia capistrata), maroon oriole 
(Oriolus traillii) slatyheaded scimtar babbler (Pomatorhinus 
horsfieldi), barthroated siva (Minta strigula), redbilled 
leothrix or Pekin robin (Leiothrix lutea), silver-eared mesia 
(Leiothrix argentauris), blue-winged siva (Minla 
cyanouroptera) , plumbeous redstart (Rhyacomis 
fuliginosus), blue whistling thrush (Myiophonus caeruleus), 
verditer flycatcher (Muscicapa thalassina), and white eye 
(Zosterops palpebrosa). 

This was one of my most memorable field trips. I surely 
disagree with trapping for trade related. purpose, which has 
now fortunately decreased to a very large extent after the 
ban. But certainly the trappers can be used for conservation 
purposes. They can be very valuable birdguides as they are 
so well aware of the areas and habitats of many species. 
Their techniques can be used for bird photography by 
following their owl trick for shy and less known birds. These 
trappers have their own sub-cultures which is not fully 
documented or researched which will be lost in one or two 
generations due to the ban on their trade. There should be 
some way to rehabilitate them and use them in a 
constructive way for better harmony between man and 
animals. 

Acknowledgement 

I am thankful to my supervisor Dr. Asad R Rahmani, 
Chairman of Centre for Wildlife and Ornithology, AMU for his 
useful suggestion for this article and constant support for my 
work. 




Birdwatching in the South Andamans 

V. SANTHARAM, 88, I Floor, Santhome High Road, Madras 600 028. 



As a part of the M.S. Ecology course-work at the Salim 
AN School of Ecology, Pondicherry University, we 
undertook a field-trip to the South Andamans. Our nine 
days' stay on the Island gave me an opportunity to get an 
idea of the birdlife of these islands and see a few 
endemic species. Though we were mostly based at Port 
Blair, I returned with a checklist of over 80 species, about 
a third of the species recorded on these islands. 

We had sailed from Madras on 8th March 1 988 by the 
Najd II but the departure was delayed by more than eight 



hours due to some minor repair works. The next two days, 
we were out in the sea and we spent our time trying to locate 
some seabirds. We saw none except a flock of some 36 
tern-like birds, dark in colour (noddy terns?). Apart from this, 
there were several flying fish, gliding low over the water just 
above the surface. 

On Nth morning we reached Port Blair. Contrary to our 
expectations, the scenery was most certainly not 
impressive. We could see several coconut trees and 
hillsides covered with buildings. It took almost two hours to 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



105 



land and all this time we were out on the deck watching 
birds. There were several whitebellied swiftlets flying about, 
low overhead. A couple of blacknaped terns sailed leisurely 
past. Three common swallows landed on a wire on the ship 
and a pair of house sparrows came aboard investigating for 
scraps of food. On the docks, we sighted a common myna 
and an immature whitebellied sea eagle flew overhead. 

We were put up at the Youth Hostel in the town from 
where we were picked up after lunch by a van and driven to 
Chidiya Tapoo, This is the southern end of the South 
Andaman Island and is about 30 km. to the south of Port 
Blair. The journey took us through the countryside which 
was mostly occupied by settlers. 

There was no natural forest left in the area and there 
were fields and gardens all along, It was only some three 
kilometres ahead of Chidiya Tapoo that we came across 
some remnant forest patches and even these appeared to 
be highly disturbed. 

Chidiya Tapoo is a small hamlet where people come for 
picnics in the weekends. The forest Department has a rest 
house with two air-conditioned suites, a large dormitory and 
a hall besides a Verandah overlooking the bay and Rutland 
island beyond. The forest around Chidiya Tapoo is heavily 
disturbed. There are still some remnant mangrove forest 
with Rhizophora and Sonneratia. The mangrove patches are 
alternated by stretches of rocky/gravelly beach and during 
the low tide, a large stretch of sand r*nd mud flats are 
exposed. The sea is rather shallow and is an excellant place 
to observe corals and other underwater life. The littoral and 
moist deciduous forest types can be seen in the vicinity of 
the Bungalow. In the littoral forest, there were trees such as 
Mimusops littoralis, Thaspesia populnea, Hibiscus tiliaceus, 
Erythrina indica and Pongamia glabra. Pandanus clumps 
were seen in several places. The disturbed patch of moist 
deciduous forest averaged about 70 ft {22 m) in height and 
with trees reaching about 100 ft (30 m.). Some of the trees 
identified include Terminalia bialata, Pterocarpus 
dalbergioides, Dipterocarpus sp., Sterculia alata and Ficus 
spp. Lianas and epiphytic orchids were common. Bamboos 
and palms were also occasionally seen. The shrub layer 
was, in several patches, dominated by Eupatorium. Around 
the guest house and the hamlet, there were introduced 
species such as Tamarind, Gliricidia, Cassia fistula, 
Casuarina, coconut and areca nut 

We stayed at Chidiya Tapoo till the evening of I6th 
March and left for Port Blair. We also visited Mt. Harriett, a 
national parte, on the outskirts of Port Blair which has some 
good patches of natural forest and Kada Kachan, a patch of 
mangrove forest, from where logs are transported to the saw 
mills in rafts. 

On 20th we sailed back to Madras by the same vessel. 
Again we spent most time on the deck looking out for 



seabirds. On 21st a white tern-like bird was seen in flight and 
four brownish birds with white primaries and abdomen were 
noticed landing over the water. They appeared to be skuas. 
The next day, I noticed one more bird in flight and though I 
am not very certain, the bird could have been an Arctic skua. 

It was surprising that despite the severe habitat 
destruction in the Andamans, 1 was able to see over fifty 
forest bird species in such a brief visit including seven 
endemics. This does not, however, show that the birds are 
capable of withstanding extensive forest and habitat loss. 
Perhaps these changes would be reflected in the bird 
populations gradually over the next few years. It is time the 
concerned authorities take steps to monitor the biodiversity 
of these islands and birds in particular, to identify sensitive 
species that would require intensive conservation 
measures. 

LIST OF BIRDS SEEN AT THE ANDAMAN ISLANDS - 

11-19 March, 1988 

• Red turtle dove {Streptopelia tranquebarica) - Perhaps the 
commonest dove around. Seen at Port Blair, the countryside 
between Port Blair and Chidiya Tapoo and at Mt. Harriett A 
congregation of some twenty birds seen in a barren field, once, 
Heard calls and male seen displaying, bowing head etc. One bird 
near the Rest House at Chidiya Tapoo, seen collecting nest 
materials on 1 6th. Later its nest was located some 40 ft up on 
Mimusops tree, close to the mangroves. Male seen bringing nest 
materials to the nest. Nest Inside thick foliage and hardly visible 
from outside. 

• Emerald dove (Chalcophaps Indica) - Not uncommon at Chidiya 
Tapoo. One or two birds regularly seen on transects, either on the 
path or under the shrubs next to the path. One bird clearly seen 
was more rufous-tinged with less distinct white over the eyes. 

• Lorikeet (Loriculus vamatis) -Quite common at Chidiya Tapoo and 
seen on both the mangrove and forest trees. Usually 4-5 birds 
seen together. A couple of birds appeared to be prospecting for 
nest-holes. 

• Whltecollard kingfisher (Halcyon chloris) - Commonest kingfisher 
at Chidiya Tapoo. Also seen on the outskirts of Port Blair. Fairly 
tame and confiding, allowing close approach. Usually seen in the 
mangroves but on several occasions well away from water in 
forested parts. Noisy. Usually in pairs or in trios, rarely singly. 

• Mangrove whistler (Pachyca phala grisola) - Atleast a air of birds 
at the Rhizophora stand at Chidiya Tapoo, one more heard nearby 
and a fourth bird heard at tie jetty at Mt. Harriett. A nest under 
construction at Chidiya Tapoo on a Rhizophora conjugata bush, 
eight feet above the ground. The bush was within the high tide 
mark. Nest was hammock- like, cup-shaped, made up of fibres 
collected from a nearby fallen tree. The nest was a flimsy structure 
with sparse lining. Nest under observation from 13th to 16th. No 
eggs seen till we left. The birds appeared to visit the nest 
irregularly. Atleast three distinct types of calls heard. These were 
similar to the whistling notes of the common iora (Asgithina tiphia), 
a species not found in the Andamans. One of these sounded like 
"swiee- ee-ee-" and ended with an abrupt "quiet". Another call was 
"ee-ee-ee-ee-ee- view- view" (the last notes were uttered fast). Yet 
another went on "wick-wick-wick-wick uuwvee". 

For lack of space, only a few birds listed are included - 
Editor. 



roe 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 




Birds of Nauni Campus of University of Horticulture and 

Forestry, Solan, Himachal Pradesh 

Dr. M.L. NARANG, University of Horticulture & Forestry, Solan (H.P.) & 
ARUN PRATAP SINGH, Coniferous Research Centre, Shimla (H.P) 



Introduction 

In the recent past, a large percentage of forested area in 
the mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh has been converted 
into agricultural fields and orchards. The practice has 
changed the ecology of these hills thereby affecting the 
fauna of these areas. Some of the purely forested 
species of birds have disappeared and their place has 
been taken over by species of the open forest. Nauni 
campus of University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan, 
located in the mid-hills of Himachal Pradesh is one of 
such areas. It is located 30' 52' N and 77" 11'E at an 
altitude of 1250 m above sea level. The campus is 
spread over an area of 550 ha. The area has mild 
climatic conditions with average annual minimum and 
maximum temperature ranging between 12-25'C and 
average annual rainfall around 90 cm. Thus the area 
essentially has subtropical to subtemperate climate and 
supports a variety of flora and fauna. At the campus most 
of the area is under agroforesty ecosystem where land is 
being used for the production of vegetables, fruits and 
some other field crops. These fields are surrounded by 
tree species like Toona ciliata, Bombax ceiba, Grevia 
optiva, Bauhinia variegata, Celtis australis, Quercus 
leucotrichophora, Pinus roxburghii, Pyrus pashia, etc. 
The wasteland area of the campus is covered with 
shrubs like Lantana camara, Berberis sp. Woodfordia 
floribunda, Debregeasia hypoleuca, Coriaria nepalensis 
and wild pomegranate. Large area of wasteland is under 
grass cover. Panther, barking deer, civets, 
yellowthroated marten, jackals, hare, porcupine, 
monkeys, langurs and mongoose are the prominent 
mammals found in the university campus. 

Survey of avifauna of the campus has been carried out 
since 1992 by the first author with the second author joining 
him on many occasions. 

Under a Govt, of India project 'Energy Plantations' 
financed by the Ministry of Energy, Govt, of India, nearly 200 
ha of wasteland in the campus has been brought under tree 
cover during the last five years. The tree species including 
some exotic species planted under the project are Pinus 
roxburghii, Acacia mollisimma, Bauhinia variegata, Grevia 
optiva, Celtis australis, Acrocarpus fraxinifolius, Robinia 
pseudoacasia, Leucaena leucocephala, Ulmus laevigata, 
Morus alba, Quercus leucotricophora, etc. some species of 
indigenous shrubs like Indigofera sp., Woodfordia 
floribunda, Coriaria nepalensis etc. have also been planted. 
Thus in the near future there will be lot of vegetation cover 
at the campus which will improve the ecological conditions 
of the campus and would serve as an ideal habitat for birds 
and other wild animals. However the present status of the 
avifauna under the existing ecological conditions is listed 
here. 



The birds were observed and identified with the help of 
field binoculars (7 x 50) and also from their calls. Following 
books were consulted for the identification of birds : Ati & 
Ripley's Compact Edition {1983) and Woodcock (1980). 



reviations used 




Status 


R 


Resident 




SM 


Summer migrant 




WM 


Winter migrant 




V 


Vagrant 




B 


Breeds in the Campus 


Distribution 


C 


Common 




FC 


Fairly Common 




NTC 


Not too common 




OR 


One record 



Elsnus caeruteus R,B,NTC 

Milvus migrans R.NTC 

Accipiter badius R.B.NTC 

Accipiter trivirgatus OR 



Family : Accipitridae 
Hb.Sr.No. 

124 Biack winged kite 

133 Kite 

1 38 Shikra 

1 44 Crested goshawk 

The bird was found preying on a black partridge 

1 57 White-eyed buzzard -eagle Butastur teesa V 

1 78 Black or king vulture Torgos calvus R.NTC 

181 Himalayan grirfon vulture Gyps himalayensis R,C 

185 Whitebacked vulture Gyps bengalensis R,FC 

186 Scavenger vulture Neophron percnopterus V 
196 Crested serpent eagle Spilornis cheeta SM.FC 



Family ; Falconidae 
222 Kestrel 



Fatco tinnunculus 



R,FC 



Family : Phasianidae 

238 Black partridge Francolinus francolinus R.B.C 

255 Jungle bush quail Perdicula asiatica R,B,FC 

293 Whitecrested kaleej pheasant Lophura leticomeiana R.B.FC 

299 Red junglefowl Galtusgaltus R,B,FC 



Family : Charadriidae 
366 Redwattled tapwing 

Family : Columbidae 
516 Blue rock pigeon 
534 Ring dove 
537 Spotted dove 

541 Little brown dove 

542 Emerald dove 

Family : Psittacidae 
545 Large indian parakeet 



Vanetius indicus 



R T B,NTC 



Columba livia R.B.C 

Streptopelia decaocto SM,B,FC 
Spreptopelia chinensis SM.B.FC 
Streptopelia senegalensis V 
Chalcophaps indica S M , NTC 



Psittacuia eupatria 



R.C 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



107 



557 Blossomheaded parakeet 

562 Slatyheaded parakeet 

Family : Cucutidae 

570 Pied crested cuckoo 

573 Common hawk-cuckoo 

578 Cuckoo 

580 Himalayan cuckoo 

590 Koel 

596 Sirkeer cuckoo 



Psittacuta cyanocephala R,FC 
Psittacula himalayana WM.C 



Clamator jacobinus SM.NTC 
Cuculus varius SM.FC 

Cuculus canorus SM , FC 

Cuculus saturatus SM.NTC 

Eudynamys scolopacea SM.NTC 
Taccocua teschenaultii V 



Family : Strigidae 

616 Scops owl Otus stops 

The bird was caught from a room in the faculty building 
in the morning hours. It was released after identification. 
Bird flew away without any discomfort. 



OR 



636 Barred jungle owlet 



Giaucidium radiatum R.B.FC 



Family : Apodidae 






703 House swift 


Apus afflnis 


R.B.C 


Family : Alcedinidae 






717 Pied kingfisher 


Ceryte lugubris 


R.NTC 


722 Small blue kingfisher 


Alcedo atthis 


R.NTC 


735 Whitebreasted kingfisher 


Halcyon smymensis 


R.FC 


Family : Meropidae 






750 Small green bee-eater 


Merops orientalis 


SM.NTC 


Family : Coraciidae 






755 Blue jay 


Coracias henghalensis 


V 


Family : Upupidae 






763 Hoopoe 


Upupa epops 


SM,C 


Family : Capitonidae 






777 Himalayan great barbel 


Megalaima vtrens 


R,B,C 


788 Bluethroated barbet 


Megalaima asiatica 


R.FC 



Family : Picidae 

798 Speckled piculet 

807 Sea tyb el lied green 
woodpecker 

809 Blacknaped green 
woodpecker 

814 Himalayan small yellow 
naped woodpecker 

842 Brownfronted pied 
woodpecker 

848 Greycrowned pygmy 
woodpecker 

Family : Hirundinidae 
921 Wiretailedswallow 
924 Redrumped swallow 

Family ; Laniidae 

946 Rufousbacked shrike 

Family : Oriolidae 

953 Golden oriole 



Picumnus innommatus SM.NTC 



Plcus squamatus 



Picus canus 



R.NTC 



R.NTC 



Picus chlorolophus 


SM.OR 


Picoides auriceps 


R.FC 


Plcoides canicapilius 


V 


Hirundo smithji 


SM.B.C 


Hirundo daurica 


SM.B.C 


Lanius scbach 


R.FC 


Oriolus oriolus 


SM.NTC 



Family : Dicruridae 
962 Black drango 
965 Ashy drongo 

Family : Sturnidae 

984 Spottedwinged stare 
987 Greyheaded myna 
994 Brahminy myna 
1006 Common myna 
1009 Jungle myna 

Family : Corvidae 
1 022 Blackthroated jay 
1025 Yellowbilled blue magpie 
1027 Redbilied blue magpie 
1030a Indian tree pie 
1037 Himalayan tree pie 
1049 House crow 
1054 Jungle crow 

Family : Campephagidae 
1069 Wood shrike 

1 078 Blackheaded cuckoo-shrike 
1085 Longtailad minivet 

Family : Irenidae 
1097 lora 

Family : Pycnonotidae 

1125 Whttecheeked bulbul 

1126 Redvented bulbul 
1148 Black bulbul 



Dicrvrus adsimilis S M , B , F C 

Dicrurus leucoptiaeus SM.NTC 

Saroglossa spiloptera SM.NTC 
Stumus malabaricus SM.B.FC 
Sturnus pagodatvm SM.NTC 
Acridotheres tristis R.B.C 

Acridotheres fuscus S M , B , N TC 

Garrulus lanceolatus R.NTC 

Cissa flavirostris V 

Cissa erythrorhyncha R , B , C 

Dendrocitta vagabunda R,FC 

Dendrocitta formosae R.FC 

Corvus splendens SM.NTC 

Corvus macrorhynchos R,B,C 

Tephrodomis pondicerianus R, 
NTC 

Coracina melanoptera SM.FC 

Pericrocotus ethologus SM.FC 

Aegithina tiphia V 

Pycnonotus leucogenys R,B,C 

Pycnonotus cafer R.B.FC 

Hypsipetes 
madagascariensis WM.C 



Family : Muscicapidae 

1 1 68 Slatyheaded scimitar babbler Pomatorhinus schisticeps wm.fc 
1182 Rustycheeked scimitar babbler Pomalorhinus erythrogenus R.B, 

FC 



1211 Blackchinned babbler 
1230 Yellow-eyed babbler 
1254 Common babbler 
1261 Jungle babbler 



Stachyris pyrrhops 
Chrysomma sinense 
Turdoides caudatus 
Turdoidas s trial us 




1292, 

1293 Rufouschinned laughing thrush Garnjlax rufogularis 

1314 Streaked laughing thrush Garrulax lineatus 

1333 Silvereared mesia 

1335 Redbilied leiothrix 

1341 Redwinged shrike-babbler 

1 396 Blackcapped sibia 

1411 Redbreasted flycatcher 



WT.NTC 
R.B.C 
Leiothrix argen tauris WM , NTC 
Leiothrix iutea R.FC 

Pteruthius flaviscapis WM.NTC 
Heterophasia capistrata WM.FC 
Muscicapa parva WM.FC 

1421 Whitebrowed blue flycatcher Muscicapa superciliaris WM.NJC 



108 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



1423 Slaty blue flycatcher Muscicapa teucomeianura WM.FC 

1 445 Verditer flycatcher Muscicapa thalassina SM.FC 

1448 G reyh ead ed fly catch e r Culicicapa ceylonansis WM , FC 

1 45 Ye 1 1 o wbe 1 1 i e d f antai I f ly catche r Rhipidura hypoxan tha WM , NTC 



1454 Whitethroated fantall flycatcher Rhipidura albicoltis 



1460 Paradise flycatcher 
1503 Franklin's longtail warbler 
1 527 Himalayan brown hill warbler 
1535 Tailor bird 
1575 Chiffchaff 
1579 Tickell's leaf warbler 
1587 Orangebarred leaf warbler 
1 594 Pallas's leaf warbler 



Terpsiphone paradisi 
Prinia hodgsonii 
Prinia criniger 
Orthotonus sutorius 
Phytloscopus cotlybita 
Phytloscopus affinis 
Phytloscopus pulcher 



R.C 

SM.FC 

NTC 

R,C 

R,FC 

WM.FC 

WM.FC 

WM.FC 



Phytloscopus proregulus WM.FC 



1616 Greyheaded flycatcher- warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos WM.FC 



1644 Bluethroat 
1647 Himalayan rubythroat 
1654 Redflanked bush robin 
1657 Golden bush robin 
1661 Magpie robin 

1670 Blueheaded redstart 

1671 Black redstart 
1675 Bluef ranted redstart 
1679 Plumbeous redstart 
1 688 Spotted forktail 

1 700 Pied bush chat 

1 705 Dark-grey bush chat 

1716 Whitecapped redstart 



1724 Chestnutbellied rock thrush 

1789 Himalayan whistling thrush 

1738 Plainbacked mountain thrush Zoothera mollissima 

1750 Greywirrged blackbird Turdus boulboul 



Erithacus svecicus WM.NTC 

Erithacus pectoralis W M , NTC 

Erithacus cyanurus WM.NTC 

Erithacus chrysaeus WM.NTC 

Copsychus saularis R.FC 

Phoenicurus caeruleocephalus WM , 
NTC 

Phoenicurus ochruros WM.NTC 

Phoenicurus frontalis WM.NTC 

Rhyacomis fuliginosus WM.FC 

Enicurus macula tus R , NTC 

Saxicola caprata SM.B.C 

Saxicola ferrea R.NTC 

Chalmarromis 

teucocephalus WM.FC 

Monticola rufiventris WM.NTC 

Myiophoneus caeruleus R,C 

WM.NTC 

WM.NTC 



1 763 Blackthroated thrush 

Family : Cinciidae 
1 775 Brown dipper 

Family : Purnellidae 
1786 Blackthroated accentor 



Turdus ruficollis 



WM,C 



Cinclus paltasii WM.NTC 



Prunella a trogulahs WM , FC 



Family : Paridae 






1792 Grey tit 


Parus major 


R.B.C 


1802 Crested black tit 


Pants metanolophus 


WM.NTC 


1 809 Yellowcheeked tit 


Parus xanthogenys 


WM.FC 


1 81 8 Redheaded tit 


Aegithalos concinnus 


WM.NTC 



Tichodroma muraria WM.NTC 



Certhia himalayana WM.FC 



Anthus triviatis 
Motacilla caspica 
Motacilla alba 



WM.FC 
WM.FC 
WM.FC 



Dicaeum ignipectus WM , FC 

Nectarinia asiatica SM.B.C 

Aethopyga gouldiae SM.FC 

Aethopyga siparaja R,FC 

Zosterops palpebrosa R.B.C 



Passer domesticus 


R,B,C 


Passer rutilans 


WM.C 


Lonchura malabarica 


V 


Lonchura punctuiata 


R,B,C 



Family : Sittidae 
1839 Wall creeper 

Family : Certhiidae 

1847 Himalayan tree creeper 

Family : Motacillidae 
1854 Tree pipit 

1884 Grey wagtail 

1885 Pied wagtail 

Family : Dicaeidae 

1905 Firebreasted flowerpecker 

Family ; Nectariniidae 
1917 Purple sunbird 
1 91 9 Mrs Gould's sunbird 
1922 Yellowbacked sunbird 

Family : Zosteropidae 
1933 White-eye 

Family : Ploceidae 

1 938 House sparrow 

1946 Cinnamon tree sparrow 
1 966 Whitethroated munia 
1 974 Spotted munia 

Family : Fringillidae 

1989 Greyheaded goldfinch 

1990 Himalayan greenfinch 
1998 Goldf ranted finch 
2011 Indian rosefinch 

Family : Emberizidae 
2048 Whitecapped bunting 
2052 Rock bunting 
2055 Greyheaded bunting 
2060 Crested bunting 



Acknowledgements 

The authors are grateful to the Head, Department of 
Silviculture and Agroforestry of this University for permission 
and facilities provided for undertaking this study. 

References 

All, S. and Ripley, S.D. 1983. Handbooks of the Birds of 
India and Pakistan Compact Edition, Oxford University 
Press, Delhi. •« 

Woodcock, M.W. 1980. Collins Handbook of the Birds'ofthe 
Indian Sub-continent including India, Pakistan, 
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Williams Collins Sons 
& Co. Ltd., London. 



Carduelis carduelis WM.FC 

Carduelis spinoides WM.C 

Serin us p usiltus W M , N TC 

Carpodacus e rythhnus WM . FC 



Emberiza stewarti 


WM.C 


Emberiza cia 


WM,C 


Emberiza fucata 


WM.FC 


Melophus lathami 


SM.B.FC 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



109 



Short Notes 



MADHAVARAM JHEEL — DEVELOPMENTAL PLANS. 

PRESTON AHIMAZ, World Wide Fund for Nature-India, Tamil 
Nadu State Office, 13, First Floor, 11th Street, Nandanam 
Extension, Madras 600 035 

The Madhavaram J heel at Madhavaram milk colony, in 
north Madras has been the subject of long scrutiny by the 
World Wide Fund for Nature— India (WWF-I). Tamil Nadu 
State Office (TNSO) and Madras Naturalists Society (MNS). 
Thanks largely to the almost single-handed efforts of Mr V 
Guruswamy who has been monitoring the birds of the /heel 
for the past 7 years. It has been soundly established that the 
jheel is possibly the largest breeding ground of the 
pheasant-tailed jacana Hydrophasianus chimrgus with 
nearly 300 birds attempting to nest here. 

For a long time the jheel has also been subjected to 
such disturbances as cattle and pig wallowing, 
snail-collection by locals, and hunting of birds, but has 
managed to pull along with no significant long-term effects 
on the birds, especially the jacanas. 

Now a new development has arisen. Recently the jheel 
was taken over by the Veterinary Department as it lies within 
their property, and is being converted into an aquaculture 
project for rearing fish. Freshwater prawns may soon follow. 

The Veterinary Department has already begun 
deepening the now-dry bed of the jheel to a depth of 2 
metres, an operation which has opened up the underlying 
water table. The department, using power shovels and 
damper trucks, plans to complete the deepening operation 
before the monsoons this year. There are plans to leave 2 
islands of 15 acres in the centre of the 30-40 acre jheel, 
which former will be dry (due to their proposed elevated 
position) throughout the year. Spotted deer, procured from 
the Forest Department, are proposed to be Introduced onto 
the islands which are to be planted with trees and which will 
also have a research lab built upon one of them. The entire 
water spread area is to be cordoned off with a chain-link 
fence and local fisher-folk and others are to be excluded 
from the place. 

Several varieties of freshwater carp are to be introduced 
into the jheel after it is ready. Fry about 4 cm in length are to 
be released here and harvested when grown. There is to be 
no after care of the fry which will be expected to manage on 
their own. 

Dangers 

In view of the ecological importance of the jheel as it is 
the largest breeding ground for the pheasant -tailed jacana 
in the region, the proposed plan poses several threats to it : 

1 The deepening of the jheels will impart a perennial 
water holding capacity to the jheel. This may or may not 
be in the best interest of the jheel's ecology, which will 
have by now evolved a well-settled and organised 
pattern of wet-and-dry existence. Upsetting this pattern 
might be beneficial to some organisms, like frogs, but 



may not be quite so beneficial to others. This needs to 
be looked into. 

2 The jheel is being deepened to a depth of 2 metres with 
a power shovel (Poclain) which gouges out great 
quantities of earth from the jheel-bed, leaving a vertical 
2-metre, sheer drop at the edge. This kind of a situation 
is hazardous to animals and man and more importantly, 
completely eliminates one important habitat for wading 
birds and other shallow-water organisms — a sloping 
bank. Waders of different sizes prefer waters of varying 
depths — a situation that only a gradually sloping bank 
caters to. A sheer edge will therefore drive all the 
wading birds away, including scores of other 
shallow-water organisms. 

3 The rearing of fish will require clearing of floating 
vegetation on which the pheasant-tailed jacanas and a 
few other birds nest. Clearing of this vegetation would 
therefore mean eliminating the -nesting site of these 
birds. 

4 The creation of the two islands in the middle would 
reduce the water spread by 1 5 acres — the proposed 
dry area of the islands. This alone may not be very 
problematic, but introducing deer onto these islands 
would mean reducing them to a barren landscape as 
deer can be as devastating on vegetation as goats. 

Further, the construction of a laboratory on these 
islands would mean a constant presence of people on 
them in addition to the disturbance caused by to-and-fro 
boat traffic. This would scare off the bird life and reduce 
their populations at the jheel. 

5 If the fish harvesting period coincides with the breeding 
season of the birds, the situation would be highly 
damaging to the latter. Nests would accidentally (or 
intentionally) be destroyed, young birds would be 
frightened out of their nests too early and brooding 
parents would abandon nests or chicks. 

Recommendations 

Although the chain-link fencing would keep out cattle 
and pigs thus eliminating the wallowing problem and would 
reduce human disturbance in the form of snail-collection and 
poaching, the dangers that the project poses far outweights 
this benefit, If the current plans are followed. However, if 
good sense prevails, the situation could be transformed into 
a successful commensalistic programme where both man 
and nature can survive and even thrive side by side, each 
party deriving benefit from and providing benefit to, the 
other. The following recommendations may be considered 
and implemented for such a situation : 

1 The peripheral edge of the bed must be slanted down at 
about 30" degrees approximately, as against the 
present 90" drop, to retain the important shore habitat. 

2 The islands, if at all they are to be constructed, should 
on no account be built up or used by people — they 
should be left wild and unaltered except for the initial 



110 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



planting of trees and shrubs, to be used as a core area 
by the birds and other wildlife. 

Deer must, at all costs, be kept away from the islands. 
If at all they are required, they may be housed in a 
fenced-in area on the bank near the guest house. The 
ideal situation would be not to go in for deer at all, as 
maintaining these animals can turn out to be a 
herculean task with no useful returns. 

3 Floating vegetation near the centre of the lake, or 
around the islands (if there are to be islands) or near 
secluded, safe and undisturbed peripheral edges of the 
waterspread should be left intact for the respective birds 
to nest upon. 

4 Fish harvesting should be conducted in a manner which 
would cause least disturbance to the birds, especially if 
the harvest coincides with the nesting season. Areas 
with floating vegetation set aside for resting and shelter 
should be banned from fishing activity — fishing boats 
should not enter these areas. 

Conclusion 

While there is every reason to promote human resource 
development projects wherever possible, this should never 
be done at the cost of the health of the ecology of the area 
which in many cases (as also in the present one) is essential 
for the success and continued survival of the project. 
Dialogues on the subject would be welcomed as such 
dialogues would definitely lead to a successful project and a 
heatlhy living environment for all to benefit from. 



GREY HEADED FLYCATCHERS AND LARGE CROWNED 
LEAF WARBLERS. J. PRAVEEN, 14/779(2), Ambadi, K. Medu 
P.O., Palakkad 678 013 

From 30th December 1 994 to 3rd January 1 995, I found 
myself participating in the bird survey at Silent Valley 
National park (Palakkad district, Kerala) conducted by 
Nature Educational Society, Thrissur (NEST) and Kerala 
Forest Research Institute (KFRI, Peechi) as a part of their 
biodiversity programme. I was stationed at Sairandhri along 
with Dr KG Raghu and four others from Madras Naturalists 
Society (MNS). The primary vegetation adjoining our camp 
was typical evergreen jungles with narrow strips of 
grasslands in the steeper portions of the hills. 

Of the numerous interesting birds recorded, the 
diminutive, gay- coloured yet lively grey-headed flycatchers 
{Culicapa ceylonensis) were my favourites. They were 
observed four times during the survey period but remarkably 
atleast one large-crowned leaf warbler (Phylloscopus 
occipitals) accompanied them each time. Although some 
other avians like yellow-cheeked tits and velvet-fronted 
nuthatches were found in some ofthe mixed hunting troops, 
the consistency of the former partners was conspicuous. 

While watching such an association with Dr KG Raghu 
on 2.01.1995, we could vividly sense a strange behaviour in 
the case of the six large-crowned leaf warblers assembled. 



Most of them were actively foraging on the medium sized 
trees in a typical nuthatch fashion. Creeping down the side 
branches, they preyed on small insects which they found on 
the barks. Even though, the imitation activity was not of the 
same quality as that of the nuthatches (never hopping up), 
it was a treat to watch a host of leaf warblers indulging in this 
queer behaviour. Sadly, we could not spend much time at 
the scene as we were on our two-hour transact period. 

At Neelikkal, an adjoining area having identical habitat, 
Pramod P and Manoj V Nair (my fellow participants) noted 
the same behaviour patterns with slight variations (pers. 
comm.). They pointed that the grey-headed flycatchers and 
large-crowned leaf warblers were very regular members of 
mixed hunting flocks but never were these aves seen 
without the accompaniment of other birds. Also, their 
foraging levels were distinct, leaf warblers frequenting the 
foliage canopy while flycatchers keeping a much lower 
strata of vegetation . 

They also found the large-crowned leaf warblers 
exhibiting nuthatch fashion at heights of about 40 m, but 
always on the main trunks of Cullenia exarillata trees and 
not on the side branches. The trunks were covered with a 
profuse growth of epiphytes which might have aided the 
birds in getting a good hold. The birds were only noted to 
cling and not even once were they seen to hop or creep 
downwards as in nuthatches. They did not see the birds 
capturing insects and hence the purpose of this unusual 
perching was not clear then. Anyway such a pattern of 
foraging was unrecorded in the case of leaf warblers and 
hence the note. 

Acknowledgements 

I thank Mr Manoj. V. Nair and Mr Pramod, P. for sharing 
their field notes and commenting on the subject and Dr KG 
Raghu for the immense field assistance he had provided. 



USE OF OLD BARBET HOLE, SUCCESSIVE BROODS AND 
MIMICRY BY MAGPIE ROBIN. MOSADDIOUE UMAR, C/o Mr 
Justice S Haque, B.T. College Lane, West Lachit Nagar, 
Gauhati 781 707 

In the mid eighties, I lived in a house on the shoulder of 
a well forested hill in the Kharghuli area of Gauhati. It was 
about 50 feet above the road level and offered a grandstand 
view of the river Brahmaputra. Although it looked like a 
haunted place, it was good for birdwatching for the many 
trees there would attract birds throughout the year. At the 
northern edge of the compound, from where the ground 
steeply fell away, there was a row of wild neem trees. The 
branches of some of them had a number of holes which I 
could not explain. One day, while climbing the stairs to my 
house, I saw a blue throated barbel vigorously biting a 
horizontal neem branch which was absolutely green {not 
decayed or semi-decayed), and taking out chunks of wood. 
The mystery of the old holes was immediately solved. 
Besides, I further learned that the barbet did not reuse old 
nesting holes. 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



One night, a thunder storm brought down one of the 
neem branches with an old barbet hole. By miracle of 
miracles, the branch landed exactly at the same angle at 
which it had been borne by the parent tree. Smaller 
branches had not only cushioned the fall but also had 
propped it about 2 feet above the ground. It was just 6 feet 
away from the window of our dressing room. 

In the morning, my wife told me that she had seen a bird, 
which later turned out to be a magpie robin, enter the hole 
in the branch and come out a few seconds later and that on 
approaching it, she had found two hatchlings in it. When I 
returned from office in the evening, she sadly told me that 
although the bird had returned to feed several times during 
the day, it could not enter the nest for fear of a herd of goats 
which had started feasting on the neem leaves. The 
following day, the robin abandoned the nest and the infants 
perished. A kind of long red carnivorous ants with centipede 
like legs soon polished them off. 

Some days later, my wife smilingly led me to the fallen 
branch and asked me to peer into the hole. What a sight! A 
clutch of five azure eggs! A record perhaps. A few days later 
she told me that all five eggs had hatched. Good news 
indeed. The first thing I did was to ask her not to go near the 
nest and that if her motherly instincts got the better of her 
discretion, then see the kids only immediately after their 
mother had fed them and gone for another forage. I warned 
her that once the robin found out that her nest had been 
discovered, she might abandon her chicks once again. As I 
myself had caused some abandonments through over 
curiosity in the past, I felt that people without scientific 
credentials like me should not visit a bird nest too frequently. 

Three to four days later, I went to have look at the 
hatchlings. The moment I peered into the hole they raised 
their heads and opened their huge mouths towards me. 
They were completely blind and I had not made the slightest 
noise. Then? Probably, the change in the lighting conditions 
in the hole caused by my shadow had alerted them of their 
mother's arrival. 

Some weeks later, I was changing in the dressing room 
after returning from the Idd prayers when something came 
through the open window, hit my belly, and dropped on the 
floor. It was a robin fledgling. Thinking that it had become a 
bit too adventurous for its age, I gently put it back into the 
nest hole. Hardly had I withdrawn my hand when two young 
robins flushed out of the hole and "shakily" flew downhill 
which was ideal as it had the advantage of a hang gliding 
take off point. Before I could recover from my surprise, the 
other three fledglings flushed and went in the same 
direction. What an auspicious day! As some crows were 
already hot on their tails, we raised an alarm. People lower 
down picked it up and scared the crows off. A couple of days 
later, I saw three of the dull coloured young robins perching 
on the parent neem tree. They were on their own now. But I 



111 



had a mixed feeling as I did not know the fate of the other 
two. Perhaps, the law of the jungle had taken its own course. 

Late one afternoon, I heard a black drongo and a 
spotted dove calling alternately almost from the same spot 
on the neem tree. As these birds are not known to be the 
best of friends, I went out to find out what had brought them 
so close together. Lo and behold! A magpie robin was doing 
both a black drongo or chloropsis and spotted dove. I had 
no way of knowing whether he was doing it for fun or trying 
to fool some one. But foxed I was. incidentally, I am not yet 
sure whether drongo mimics leaf bird or vice versa. 

However, some questions remained un-answered :- 

1 . Does magpie robin always raise more than one batch of 
young in a single season (May - August)? 

2. Why, despite losing the first brood, did the robin chose 
the same hole in the fallen branch to raise the second 
when several other old barbet holes were available high 
upon trees? 

3. Did she somehow know that on the second occasion 
she would lay a clutch of five eggs and need a more 
roomy nest which she could not have elsewhere? 

4. Was that the reason why she rechose the hole in the 
fallen branch despite the hazard of nesting just above 
the ground level. 

Whatever the reason, we had done our part by not 
allowing any one near the branch or take it away for using 
as firewood. 

This incident took place during May-August, 1987. 



♦ 

SCOOTY TERN RECORD FROM THATTAKKADU IN THE 
WESTERN GHATS. DR. R. SUGATHAN, K.C. JACOB and 
A BY. P. VARGHESE, Thattakkadu Bird Sanctuary, NjeyappHly, 
Kerala 686 691 

The only published record of the sooty tern Sfema 
fuscata nubilosa from Kerala is from Ramanattukara 
(Calicut University Campus) by D.N. Mathew and E.A.A. 
Shukkur during 1973. (JBNHS 71 : 144-45). The campus is 
situated 12 Kms inland of the sea coast and it was reported 
as a vagrant. 

Handbook Vol, 3:62, records this species breeding in 
large numbers in Laccadives islands {Cherbaniani reef); 
they are also recorded breeding on Vengurla rocks of the 
Western Coast. During the rainy season this species along 
with noddy terns (Anous stolidus) were recorded a few times 
from Point Calimere Wild Life Sanctuary of Tamil Nadu by 
the 1st author during DNHS Bird migration study projects 
(1980-86). 

However during July 1994 one specimen of sooty tern 
was collected from a paddy field close to the Thattakkadu 
Bird Sanctuary in Kerala. Thattakkadu Bird Sanctuary is a 



112 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



Tropical Bird community Sanctuary bordered by the River 
Periyar and its tributary Pooyamkutty on two slides. On the 
other two sides there is a forest. The distance from Cochin 
sea coast along the road is nearly 75 Kms. When the bird 
was sighted by us it was very weak and was unable to fly. It 
was brought to our office in the sanctuary and identified as 
an adult sooty tern from the following diagonises. 

The bird was slightly smaller than a house crow with 4 
cms in length. Plumage was sooty black above with a 
prominent white frontal band. The upper portion 
(Superciliary) extended just above the eyes. The black cap 
extended through the eyes to the base of the bill. The whitish 
breast and throat slowly transformed to greyish as it reached 
the abdomen. 

The wings were long and pointed. Tail deeply forked. 
Leading edge of the upperwing whitish. Tail greyish white 
with end feathers elongated forming a V. Bill and feet black. 

Other Measurements are as follows :- 

Wing - 281 mm 

Bill - 37 mm (FF) 

Tarsus - 23 mm 

Tail - 152 mm (outer) 

No moult was noticed, Broodpatch was absent, stomach 
was empty. Primaries and tail feathers fresh with very little 
tear and wear. 

On catching the bird it was repeatedly pecking our hand. 
It made no effort to escape showing that it was very weak. 

However it could live only for few hours. Later it was 
skinned and the specimen given to the Regional Museum of 
Mysore for display. On examining its body cavity it was 
noticed that the bird was a male with normal testis. 



STATUS OF THE WOOLLY-NECKED STORK IN ASSAM, 
INDIA. DR. ANWARUDDIN CHOUDHURY, The Rhino 
Foundation for Nature in NE India, C/o The Assam Co., Ltd., 
Girish Bordoloi Path, Bamunimaidam, Guwahati 781 021, 
Assam, India 

The woolly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus) is also 
known as the white-necked stork. The species is regarded 
as resident in India (Ali & Ripley, 1983) and in Assam also 
the species was thought to be resident (Choudhury, 1990). 
However, subsequent field work suggests that the bird 
moves locally depending upon habitat suitability. The 
white-necked stork is nowhere common although sightings 
are common in protected areas like Kaziranga National 
Park. I here list all the sightings recorded by me during the 
last decade while working in the field in different parts of 
Assam (Table). Table shows that two birds are the most 
common group-size. 

Except for Kaziranga and Orang, the species occurs 
sporadically in rest of Assam. Even in Dibru-Saikhowa 
Sanctuary, the stork seems to be an occasional visitor as 
during a field survey from July, 1 992 and May, 1 994, 1 did not 
see a single bird which is an indications to that. 

The white-necked stork is not particularly threatened, 
however, loss of habitat, occasional poaching, use of 
pesticide in the cultivations, are the threats which it faces in 
common with other water birds. A survey to find out whether 
the species breeds anywhere in Assam, especially in 
Kaziranga and Orang, is recommended. 



This record may be the first of its 
kind from the foot hills of the 
Western Ghats and so far away from 
the sea shore. It is possible that the 
bird drifted through the Periyar river 
upstream by strong upwind from the 
sea and lost its orientation. 

References 

Handbook of birds of India and 
Pakistan, Salim Ali and S.D. 
Ripley : 3,62 

Pictorial guide to the birds of Indian 
Subcontinent, Salim Ali & S.D. 
Ripley : 46 (16) 

A guide to the birds of Ceylon, G.M. 
Henry : 339 

A field guide to the birds of Britain & 
Europe, R.T. Peterson : 155 




ito 



, State 
[Protected Areas 
/ A ■ 



Cortir tt/C-¥r 



Map of Assam showing the recorded localities of C. episcopus. 
Numbers refer to the Table. 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



113 



Table : Field Observations on Woolly-necked Stork in Assam 



SI.No. 


Date 


Location 


No. of Birds 


Habitat 


Remarks 


1. 


5-3-1986 


Near Pathsala, 
barpeta District 


2 


Roadside ditch 


Near a busy highway 


2. 


29-1-1988 


Sohola bee!, 
Kaziranga Nat. Park 


2 


Edge of large open 
beel 




3. 


21-1-1989 


Satsimotu beet, Orang 
Sanctuary 


2 


Marsh with tall 
elephant grass at 
the edge 




4. 


6-2-1 990 


Ghahibari, 
Dhakuakhana 
Sub-division, 
Lakhimpur Dist. 


2 


Grassland 


In association with 26 black 
storks. 


5. 


17-5-1990 


Near Biswanath 
Charali, Sonitpur Dist. 


3 


Open field 


In association with a few 
lesser adjutant 


.6. 


14-9-1990 


Mijikajan Tea Estate, 
Sonitpur Dist. 


2 


Degraded forest 
surrounded by tea 
plantation. 


Perched in tree 


7. 


30-1-1991 


Bali-Dewrigaon, 
Dhakuakhana, 
Lakhimpur Dist, 


1 


Countryside with 
marshes and 
channels 


Perched in tree. 


8. 


30-1-1991 


Between Gormur and 
Kamalabari, Majuli 
Sub-division, Jorhat 
Dist. 


2 


Countryside with 
marshes and 
channels 


Perched in a Bombax ceiba 
tree 


9. 


27-6-1993 


Near Kohora, outside 
Kaziranga National 
Park, Golaghat Dist. 


2 


Open field 


Foraging 


10. 


November 
1993 


Near Kolomy, 
Dibmsaikhowa 
Sanctuary, Tinsukia 
Dist. 


a few 


Near a forest pool 


Largest flocking recorded in 
India {Asif Hazarika, pers. 
comm.; photos seen by me). 


11. 


Summer 
1994 


Near Bagori, outside 
Kaziranga Nat. Park. 
Nagaon Dist. 


2 


Open field at the 
edge of hills 


In flight (circling). A few 
lesser adjutant also circling). 
A few lesser adjutant also 
circling 


12. 


21-11-1994 


Between Gormur and 
Kamalabari, Majuli, 
Jorhat Dist. 


2 


Countryside with 
marshes and 
channels 


Perched in tree 



13 June, 1994 NearGohpur, Sonitpur 3 

Dist. 

Beel Lakes, ox-bow lakes, depressions with pool and 
and jheel in northern India. 



Open field (Kulajyoti Lahkar, pers. 

comm.) 

marshes, etc., are locally called beelin eastern India 



References Choudhury, A.U. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of Assam. 

Ali, S. & Ripley, S.D. 1983. The Handbook of the Birds of Sofia press & Publishers, Guwahati. 



India & Pakistan {Compact ed.}, Oxford Univ. Press, 
New Delhi. 



114 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



Correspondence 



THE WHITEWINGED TIT Parus nuchaiis IN SOUTHERN INDIA 
and NOTES ON THE GREAT TIT Parus major. L SHYAMAL, 
E-18, i.l.Sc. Campus, Bangalore 560 012 

"I obtained this well marked species of tit from the Eastern 
Ghats West of Nellore. The shikarees who brought it to me 
said that it was rare. It has since been obtained by Dr. 
Stewart from a tope of trees near Bangalore...." 

- T.C. Jerdon 

On a recent trip to Vishakapatnam, I looked out for this species 
in and around the city, in the zoo premises, Simhachalam (which 
has the habitat described by Stuart Baker - Tops of wooded hills.) 
and also from the train (which moved at a pace that only a 
birdwatcher could appreciate) but it was all in vain. I have found only 
two recent reports of this tit in Southern India, both from the Kaveri 
valley 100 km south of Bangalore, where too I have failed to see it. 
Interestingly all specimens of the whitewinged tit in the BNHS are 
from Kutch, Western India. It appears that this tit is much rarer than 
suggested by 'Jerdort's Shikarees*. The whftewinged tit sketch is of 
a Kutch specimen in the BNHS. It is to be seen if 1000 kilometres 
of separation has led to any visible differences. Some of the 
specimens show some buff on the flanks, which I was told was due 
to ageing. Salim Ali in his Birds of Gujarat states that breeding 
males carry much yellow on the flanks. 

Great tits Parus major show a lot of variation in the amount of 
black. The top sketch is from a newsletter coverphoto (Vol.32, 9- 10) 
of a breeding adult with a white vent. The underside view is of an 
adult, which was displaying, with a completely black vent (undertail 
coverts). The great tit facing right is an immature which had a 
rounded tail, incomplete 'chin- strap' and a curiously shaped white 
patch on the nape. Adult great tits also have a white nape which 
should not be confused with the nuchal patch of Parus nuchaiis 
which I found to be smaller than shown In most illustrations. 

References 

Anon. (1994), Annotated checklist of the birds of Bangalore, p.57 
Baker, E.C.S. (1922), Fauna of British India; Birds. Vol. II : p.79 




Jerdon, T.C. (1863), The birds of India. Vol. II Part I : p,279 
Lott, E.J. (1987), NLBW, 29 (9-10) : p. 16 



A RARE OCCURRENCE OF THE GLOBALLY THREATENED 
WHITE- NAPED TIT, PARUS NUCHAUS, IN AREAS OF 
DHARWAD, KARNATAKA, INDIA. Dr. J.C. UTTANGI, H.No. 36/1, 
Mission Compound, DHARWAD 580 001. 

In the back-yard of our house at Dharward, located in the 
transitional belt of Tropical Thorn Forest edge, facing the Pune- 
Bangalore High way, between 15'.25'N and 75\00'E and an altitude 
of nearly 2400 feet MSL. few trees like Mango, Chikku, Mulberry, 
Coconut, Guava (Peru) including the Curry-leaf plant (Kadipatta) 
Murraya koenigi planted nearly 20 years ago still attract a variety of 
birds, butterflies and insects. The two clumps of Loranthus pest 
which appeared recently on the Guava tree are attracting both the 
flowerpeckers namely the thickbilled & Tickell's flowerpecker 
including the purplerumped sunbird. One more attraction to birds 
is the tall Mulberry tree, the succulent fruits of which draw the 
attention of koel & coppersmith barbet and occasionally the 
Brahminy & the greyheaded mynas. The two regular winter visitor 
to the backyard are, the redbreasted flycatcher and the grey shrike. 
They are frequently seen feeding near the Chikku tree. Those that 
occupy the Mango tree are, white eye, iora, redwhiskered bulbul, 
redvented bulbul, tailor-bird, ashy wren warbler, the grey tit, magpie 
robin and one or two stray wanderers. This obviously serves to 
indicate that in a landscape where trees exist that can be of value 
to birds, whether they are in a backyard, or in the front-garden, or a 
corridor of trees along roads, or hedges grown around a city graden, 
or even a piece of useless patchy grassland in the urbans filled with 
garbage, here we always find birds, one or the other and sometimes 
suddenly a species with a particular assigned value. Managing 
landscape and conservation of natural habitats in all places where 
birds are found, therefore, is of utmost importance in these days of 
urban and industrial expansion. 

On 11 September 1995, at about 4.30 p.m., I heard some 
musical notes emerging out from the Mango tree of the back-yard 
and somewhat reluctantly went with my 8 x 40 (field 6.5*) 
Superzenith, Light Weight Binocular to check and see if anything 
interesting could be noticed. At first, I saw a tailor-bird. With its tail 
held upwards it was hopping from one branch of the tree to another 
branch. Very close to it but, on another dried up branch I saw two 
black and white tits. One of them, hanging upside down was 
pecking at the dried end of the twig. In this position, it was showing 
its broad jet black band which ran straight from chin to flank without 
touching the cheek area. The white outer wing feather and a white 
patch on the nape were additional pointers which went to show that 
the bird was not a grey tit but, a member of the white-naped tit, 
Parus nuchaiis which had locally migrated into our Dharwad areas. 
Ali and Ripley (1D87) have named it as whitewinged black tit and 
while describing its range say that the species is patchily distributed 
in Northern Gujarat but also found in Eastern Ghats west of Nellore 
including one record from Bangalore in Southern India. This is the 
3rd record of a globally threatened species of tit to be made from 
the semiarid region of Dharwad in South India and the second one 
is from the buffer zone of Anashi National Park in North Western 
Ghats (1994 Survey sponsored by OBC). Since the tit species is 
restricted to India and not found anywhere else, its conservation 
measures need consideration on top priority basis. Salim Ali who 
first saw the bird in 1943 near Buj in a hole of a cross-bar gate had 
marked it with an aluminium ring to test its movments. He could not 



Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



115 



get any results. It would be an interesting study to venture upon the 
breeding behaviour and trends of distribution of the species in 
Southern India. 



OCCURRENCE OF THE RUFOUSVENTED PRINIA (Prinia 
burnesii) IN PABITORA WILDLIFE SANCTURAY, ASSAM. 

MAAN BARUA, 107, "Barua Bhavan", M.C. Road Uzan Bazar, 
Guwahati, Assam ■ 780 001. 

On 1 3 February 1 994 I observed a rufousvented prinia (Prima 
burnesii) when visiting Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary {26*12' - 36'15'N 
to 92'2' - 92*5'E), Assam. The observation was made from 15h30 
to 15h40 on the western boundary of the sanctuary near the range 
office at 15-25 m above MSL. The bird, observed at a distance of 
6-7 m, was foraging among some grass. The weather was clear 
with the sun behind my back. 

Notes were taken and the bird described as follows ; size and 
shape like that of plain prinia (Prinia subflava)); brownish-green 
crown, nape, wings, and back with thin black stripes ; narrow 
supercillium pale white ; throat, breast, belly and vent off-white with 
a greyish tinge ; flanks grey : tail greenish-brown ; bill 
blackish-yellow ; and iris dark. 

I consulted AM & Ripley (1983b) on the spot and identified it as 
a rufousvented prinia. The bird was of the eastern subspecies 
cinerascens. The chances of it being the similar graceful prinia 
(Prinia gracilis)) were ruled out as it had a greenish-brown (v. white 
tipped) tail and grey flanks (v. pale brown). 

The habitat in which the bird was seen is a grass land 
(comprising of Phragmites karka, Erianthus ravannae, Arundo 
donax, etc) in the vicinity of a wetland. The sanctuary is a part of 
the Brahmaputra floodplain and most of the area is flooded during 
the monsoon. 

This is the first record of the rufousvented prinia for Pabitora 
WLS, This species has two disjunct populations, in the plains of the 
Indus In Pakistan and adjacent north-west India, and the plains of 



the Brahmaputra river in north-east India and Bangladesh. The 
eastern population was formerly common, but with a few recent 
published records. It is threatened by the destruction and 
modification of its grassland and wetland habitat (Collar etal. 1994). 

The presence of rufousvented prinia indicates the quality of 
grasslands in Pabitora WLS. These grasslands should be surveyed 
for it is likely to hold many more endangered species. 

References 

Ali, S and Ripley, S.D. (1983a) Handbook of the Birds of India and 
Pakistan, Compact edition. New Delhi : Oxford Univ. Press. 

(1983b) A Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the 



Indian Sub-continent. Delhi : Oxford Univ. Press. 

Collar, N.J, Crosby, M.J. and Stattersfield, A.J (1994) Birds to Watch 
2 : The World List of Threatened Birds. Cambridge : Birdlife 
Intemation 

Talukdar, B.N. and Mahanta, R (1994) Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary 

DISTRIBUTION OF THE GREAT BLACK WOODPECKER IN THE 
WESTERN GHATS. Lt. Gen. B.C. NANDA (Retd.), Coorg Wildlife 
Society, General Thimaya Circle, Madikeri 571 201, Kodagu, 
Kamataka 

We would like to report that the Indian great black woodpecker 
(Dryocopus javensis) has been sighted by our members on several 
occasions in the area of Valnoor (where our Society has a fishing 
hut). This place is on the banks of River Cau very in Kodagu District 
and immediately on the far bank is the Dubari Reserved Forest. 

The recorded sighting has been done by Ms. Nafini Cariappa 
on 5- 2-1994. Unfortunately other members have not recorded the 
date on which they have sighted the bird. 



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COMMENTS ON SOME CONTRIBUTIONS TO 

NEWSLETTER.!,/* WO/AM ft KHACHER, 646, Vastunirman. 
Gandninagar 382 022 

As always I am happy to receive my copy of the 
NEWSLETTER. Yesterday 25th September there was one in the 
mail and I started leafing through it. To my chagrin I found as though 
time had stood still or rather had gone backwards for I was reading 
what I had apparently already read - it was the May-June 1995 
issue! 

Any way, I have two comments to make on what a couple of 
friends have written in this issue. First, Dilhas Jaffri's record of the 
pied harrier. Dilhas has some good bird photographs and makes it 
a point to come and show me his achievements from time to time. 
The pied harrier was distinct. I am not sure whether he has sent a 
note for the BNHS Journal If not, I suggest he does so along with 
a copy of the photograph for publishing in the Journal, 

Just fotfowing Dilhas note is one by my young friend Hillaljyoti 
from Assam (Actually there are two). Mynahs, like sparrows and a 
number of other hole nesting passerines invariably line their nests 
with soft material if available and feathers are very popular. I have 
a pair of common and another of Brahminy mynas and both, if they 
can, carry feathers in. The common stuffs paper and pieces of rags 
into the nest cavity quite meaninglessly it would seem. The 
greyheaded myna is very closely related to the Brahminy. This 
observation needs further commenting on. Young Hillal should 
realise that Salim Ali and Ripley are not the last word - they provide 
a baseline which incidently rests on observations of earlier 
birdwatchers and Salim Ali himself typified this; when watching 
bayas nest, he discovered their polyandrous customs. He himself 
told me a very interesting story of how in his early days got into a 
controversy with the then legendary Hugh Whistler. It seems 
birdmen believed that the pennants at the tip of the racquets of the 
racquet-tailed drongo were formed by the - whatever they are called 
- on the outerside of the rachis of the long tail feathers. Salim Ali 
had found that the long rachis actually was twisted and so the 
"whatever they are" are on the inner side, but twisted to appear on 
the outerside. 



Similarly I have added a little to bird knowledge by pointing out 
that blackheaded oriole males are a richer golden colour than the 
females and based on this observable difference found that it is the 
female alone who builds the nest, the male merely flying around 
following her - quite stupidly really, because his liquid calls draw 
attention to the nest building activities! The point to emphasise is 
that we have still a great deal to learn and so careful notes must be 
made (this is the difference between an ornithologist and a casual 
birdwatcher) and even more important, observations recorded in a 
publication of some recognised Society like the BNHS. 

Hillal's second observation pertaining to predation by greater 
adjutant storks should not cause surprise - though what he saw 
must be recorded - because storks, do capture large live creatures 
and so for carrion feeders, graduating from animals, to sick, 
wounded and so to some less wary creature would be logical. Infact, 
I have seen photographs of a maribou stork in East Africa capture, 
kill and attempt to swallow a iesser flamingo! Hillal should keep a 
sharp look out and maintain detailed notes not only for his scientific 
research but also to share interesting, exciting and often beautiful 
moments with other less fortunate birdwatchers. 

Reference to BIRDS AT ASAN BARAJ, I would like to question 
the authors as to the "four months, regular observation" 
commencing from 1st November, or were the four months spread 
over the year. If the former, observations at the BARRAGE (not 
BARAJ?) would have been restricted to the winter season and so, 
the resident status of several of the species could be questionable. 
The authors may like to make further inquiries about the following ; 

• Pariah kite Mitvus migrans govinda the common, resident, plains 
subspecies is recognisable from, and during the cool season 
shares space with the larger and rather darker blackeared kite 
M.m. (meatus. But the latter would not be resident as this would 
suggest that the two subspecies are nesting near Dehra Dun 
which would make them into distinct species!. M.m. lineatus 
moves higher Into the mountains during summer. 

* Greater spotted eagle Aquila ctanga if resident and breeding 
should be carefully observed. A few pairs may breed with us but 
the large majority arrive as winter visitors. Breeding raptors, 
particularly the large eagles need monitoring since they are all on 
the decline. 



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Newsletter for Birdwatchers 



117 



• Avocet Racurvirostra avocetta is surely a winter visitor around 
Dehra Dun. 

• The swift Apus apus cannot be resident. During summer it is a high 
altitude swift 

• Swallow Hirundo rustics breeds in Himalayan Valleys, Whether it 
does so in the Doon valley needs confirmation, 

• House martin Detichon urbica. This is a high altitude, summer 
b rood m g bird. Even its winter status needs more observation. 

• Verditer flycatcher Muscicapa thalassina. Breeds in summer 
above 1,200 mts along the Himalayas. In winter spreads across 
India to the South. 

/ redstart Rhyacornis Miginosus. A summer breeding 
species along the Himalayan streams about 1J)Q0 mts and winters 
along the base of the mountains. An altitudinal migrant. 

• Whitecapped redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus. Another 
altitudinal migrant wintering along the base of the Himalayas. 
Summers well above 1500 mts. 

• Wagtails. Only the large pied wagtail Moticiila maderaspatensis is 
a resident. All the others are winter visitors. The forest wagtail M. 
indica needs confirmation. 

The observations by Vivek Gharpure page 78, NL Vol. 35, No. 
4 July/August 1995 call for comments. Several years ago I had 
been staying as a house guest at a bungalow atop the hill south of 
the lake at Bhopal, M.P. Looking down at the water one saw a 
wooded island from which half a dozen little e gret Egretta garzetta 
would fly out low over the water attempting from time to time to jab 
at fish shoals near the surface. The birds would fly aimlessly over 
the lake returning to the trees before setting off on another sortee. 
This went on for quite sometime. How successful they were in 
capturing the fish is something I cannot say. Very often egrets do 
chase after a shoal in clear water and take to the wing where the 
water gets deep. Egrets running about in water after visible prey is 
quite common; taking to wing presumably would be the next step. 

All members of the swallow family readily settle on the ground 
and can alight and take off with case. When it is remembered that 
most Hirundo nests are 'built' of mud pellets, seeing swallows on 
the ground should not occasion the sort of surprise indicated. The 
question is, were the swallows feeding on emergent insects or were 
they collecting mud pellets - if the latter, they would not be Hirundo 
rustica but more probably, as indicated by the guest editor, H. 
daurica. 

Regarding sunbirds piercing the bases of corollas to get at the 
nectar, over my patio here, I have Thunbergia grand/flora with large, 
pendant clusters of blue flowers. Purple sunbirds Nectarinia 
asiatica (alas! the only sunbird occurring here) are on continual 
attendance invariably piercing the base - each flower has a neat 
hole. T. grandiflora flowers are tailor made for pollination by the 
large, common bumble bees. 

In making these comments, my intentions are to tell Vivek 
Gharpure to most certainly make such observations and to share 
them with the rest of us. 



FIFTEEN YEARS AND STILL GOING STRONG. M.S. KULKARNI, 
State Bank of Hyderabad, Hyderabad 

On 29th October I was one of the members of the Bird 
Watchers Society of A. P. visiting Shamirpet Deer Park and the lake. 
20 km. away from Hyderabad City. 



We have been visiting this site since the last fifteen years and 
we can confirm that the place is" being encroached upon by stone 
cutters (vaddars) and stone crushing machines. One large hospital 
is also established here catering to the needs of the "creamy" layer 
of society. 

Here a hundred acres of land has been under the A.P. forest 
dept and a deer park is maintained overlooking the take. The area 
is full of big rocks, and inside the deer park, there are rock 
formations one above the other. In these rocks an Egyptian vulture 
(Neophron prcnopterus) has been nesting for the last fifteen years. 
The life span of this vulture is 80 years. Every year, the pair raises 
a single chick or some times two chicks. 

It is a delight to see this bird for the past so many years at 
Shamirpet Deerpark amongst the fast changing environment. 

WHITE STORKS IN BELGAUM CITY. N.R. SANT, 27, Adarsh 
nagar, Wadgaon, Betgaum 590 005 

On 5th September 95 I saw 9 large birds flying over my head. 
I could identity them as white storks Ciconia ciconia from their black 
primaries, red legs and red bill. 

On the 8th morning I got a call from a young friend, who told 
me about some big white birds near his house in a paddy field. To 
my surprise there were 13 white storks quietly moving in a wet rice 
field. I took some snaps. 

I had seen these birds way back in December 1985 near the 
railway track south of Belgaum. 

The birds remained there for two weeks. I watched them 
regularly. One bird was limping heavily and later I got news from a 
farmer that the wounded bird was eaten by local dogs. 



NEED FOR A NEW GUIDE BOOK. WERNER W.K. PETERS, 
Member of Singapore Nature Society, Bird Group, 135, Sunset 
Way $10-05, Singapore 597 158 

As a German working and living in Singapore I am not only 
familiarizing myself with the beautiful world of Southeast Asian birds 
but also trying to get a glimpse of the extraordinary avifauna of the 
great Indian Subcontinent, though primarily through literature. 

Thus Bikram Grewal's "Birds of India, Bangladesh, Nepal and 
Sri Lanka" was a most welcome addition to my bird library. 

Frankly, it was the advertisement of "superb" photographs 
which lured me to instantly buy this book. Unfortunately, the 
photographs turned out to be the weakest point of the publication. 
Other shortcomings have been rightly pointed out by your readers 
Manu Prasanna and Pavan Nagaraj (Vol. 34 No. 2) and, therefore, 
need no further comment here. 

\ I believe that birders all over the world would highly welcome 
a new edition which would eradicate these shortcomings. After 
having seen a number of your Newsletters with really superb 
photographs of Indian birds on their cover pages, I am positive that 
this gbal could be achieved by pooling the best photographic shots 
of the great number of excellent Indian bird photographers and 
having them incorporated in such new edition. 




Review 



Announcements 



ENVIRONMENT AND ORNITHOLOGY IN INDfA. PRAKASH 
GOLE, Rawat Publications, Jaipur 302 004, 262 Pages, Rs. 
400/-. Review by Laeeq Futehally 

This book is packed with the lifetime's experience of bird-based 
practical conservation. 

Like most birdwatchers, Prakash Gole quickly moved from 
Ornithology to Conservation. His brand of conservation is of an 
extremely pragmatic kind; how to deal with officials and 
bureaucrats; how to plan for the restoration c4 wastelands; how to 
create Bird Sanctuaries, and above all, how to implement these 
plans. He keeps careful financial accounts of his "growing" 
activities, as we,, as detailed profit and loss accounts of his 
successes and failures. And, unlike most people, Prakash Gole 
does not believe in glossing over his fai'ures. Indeed, it is the 
failures which often drive home the most important lessons. This 
makes the present book doubly useful as a handbook for all 
conservationists who are trying to work on. the ground. It is 
interesting that, after much effort and hard work, the final conclusion 
is simple : Control the cattle population and leave Nature alone. 

Birds are, of course, the best indicators of the health and status 
of any area, and it is not surprising that Gole the ornithologist can 
see so deeply into ecological and conservation problems. The 
chapters on Management of Bird Sanctuaries, Managing a 
Man-made Tropical Wetland; Birds of a Polluted River; Birds of 
Deforested Hills, are scientific, complete and insightful reports with 
tables, graphs and sketches. 

^~— As~we-all know Mr. Gole is an authority on Cranes and four 
chapters are devoted to Cranes - three of "them to the Black-necked 
crane, whose future is a reason for special concern. Even their 
Ladakh breeding grounds are not safe from human interference; 
while as for the Sarus Crane, "the tallest flying bird in the world" 
which used to be so common a few years ago, we are told that "it 
is not faring well". This statement is followed, as always, with 
accurate and concrete facts and analyses. 

At Rs. 400/- per copy, this book might not be easily available to 
every bidwatcher. But it is an investment which should be made 
every conservation* minded NGOgroupasa text book. 



WILDERNESS 

GHORPADE 



INDIA Research Expedition. Dr. KUMAR 



Volunteer Naturalists can join the WILDERNESS INDIA 
RESEARCH EXPEDITIONS teams doing biodiversity surveys in 
peninsular India. They will share costs and be trained to assist 
research scientists to complete ongoing projects, mainly on bird and 
insect faunas, with an eye on the floras, of selected ecosystems. 

Interested participants (or sponsors) are requested to write to 
Dr. Kumar Ghorpade, P.O. Box, 8439, Bangalore 560 084 {or Fax 
080-546 3378) for more details of participation or sponsorship, and 
for application forms. 



SALIM ALI INTERNATIONAL AWARD FOR NATURE 
CONSERVATION. BOMBAY NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY 

The Salim Ali Internationa! Award for Nature Conservation is 
expected to be one of the most prestigious conservation awards in 
the world. It is proposed to be awarded to an individual of any 
nationality for outstanding contribution and achievement in the field 
of protection, management and conservation of natural resources 
including population, wildlife, pollution and hazardous- materials 
control, education, information and legislation. 

The biannual award is of Rs. 1,00,000/- and citation. For further 
details contact : The Director, Bombay Natural History Society, 
Hornbill House, Dr. Salim Ali Chowk, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Road, 
Bombay 400 023, India, Phone : 2843869-2843421, Fax : (91-22) 
2837615 

Nominations for the award related credentials and information 
in support of the nomination and letters of reference must be 
received no later than 29 February 1996. 




Editor : ZAFAR FUTEHALLY, No. 2205, Oakwood 
Apartments, Jakkasandra layout, Koramangala 3rd Slock, 
8th Main, Bangalore 560 034. 

Printed and Published Bi-monthly by S. Sridhar 
at Navbharath Enterprises, Seshadripuram, Bangalore 
560 020. For Private Circulation Only. 

Tel. : 3364142 Fax : 3364682 

E-Mail ; <sridhar.navbrat@axcess.net.in> 



Cover : White Eye {Zostemps palpebrosa). This restless 
tiny olive green bird has a marked preference for gardens 
and hill jungles dose to cultivation. Found in small parties 
always on the move, making pleasing jingling notes cheen... 
cheen. These birds help in pollination of many flowering 
plants. The male white eye renders a short melodious 
warbling song from a favorite perch during the breeding 
season. 

Photo - S. Sridhar, arps